To save water, and to reduce water pollution and greenhouse gases, fruit and vegetable growers can change the way they irrigate and fertilize their crops.To learn why the use of these environmentally beneficial management practices (BMPs) is not more widespread, American Farmland Trust polled and held focus groups with specialty crop growers, asking them what would make it more likely for them to try practices such as micro-drip and alternate furrow irrigation and timed application and precise placement of nitrogen fertilizers.
The report finds that the cost of new irrigation and nutrient management BMP is the major obstacle to their adoption, followed by grower concern that they could suffer a reduction in crop yield or quality. The difficulty of accessing trustworthy information on how to implement the practices and to minimize the economic and agronomic risks was another major barrier identified by the focus groups.
Improved productivity, tax credits to offset costs, risk management tools and higher market prices for crops grown using environmentally friendly BMP were among the incentives growers said would encourage them to adopt such practices. However, many California growers were skeptical about or unfamiliar with government cost-share programs that have been a traditional way of funding BMP. The report includes a number of recommendations for encouraging more specialty crop growers to adopt irrigation and nutrient management BMP.